“But I don’t feel like it, Dad,” said my 5-year-old son, Samuel, in a high-pitched whine.Memories of my father’s response echoed in my head just before the words came out of my mouth. “It really doesn’t matter what you feel like, son. You have to take a bath.”
My sinfully sweet son responded by drooping his shoulders and eyes. “But that will make me sad, and if I’m sad, I’ll cry.” Feeling the mix of emotions between laughter at the reminiscence of my own boyhood mischievousness and sadness at forcing the child I love to do something against his will, I controlled my expression and said resolutely, “You still have to take a bath. We can’t always do what we feel like in life.”
I found myself reacting upon those words as I recently examined the transgender movement sweeping across our culture. This movement finds its foundation not in facts but in feelings, not in truth but in experience. Let me demonstrate.
Paul McHugh, university distinguished professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and former psychiatrist in chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, wrote an article published in 2014 in the Wall Street Journal titled “Transgender Surgery Isn’t the Solution.”
In the 1960s Johns Hopkins was the first American medical center to venture into sex-reassignment surgery.
A study in the 1970s demonstrated that the patients “were no better than those who didn’t have the surgery.” He writes,
“So at Hopkins we stopped doing sex-reassignment surgery.” He concludes his article by stating, “At the heart of the problem is confusion over the nature of the transgendered. ‘Sex change’ is biologically impossible. People who undergo sex-reassignment surgery do not change from men to women or vice versa. Rather, they become feminized men or masculinized women. Claiming that this is a civil-rights matter and encouraging surgical intervention is in reality to collaborate with and promote a mental disorder.”
McHugh also notes a 2011 long-term study at Karolinska Institutet, a medical university in Sweden, that followed 324 people who had sex-reassignment surgery. The study found that about 10 years after surgery, those with transsexualism had an increase in psychiatric inpatient care and almost a 20 percent increase in suicide attempts.
Most recently the American College of Pediatricians issued a 2016 statement titled “Gender Ideology Harms Children.” That post includes the following statements:
- Human sexuality is an objective biological binary trait: “XY” and “XX” are genetic markers of health, not genetic markers of a disorder.
- No one is born with a gender. Everyone is born with a biological sex. Gender (an awareness and sense of oneself as male or female) is a sociological and psychological concept, not an objective biological one.
- A person’s belief that he or she is something they are not is, at best, a sign of confused thinking.
- Puberty is not a disease, and puberty-blocking hormones can be dangerous.
- According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition, as many as 98 percent of gender confused boys and 88 percent of gender confused girls eventually accept their biological sex after naturally passing through puberty.
This statement indicates that embracing transgenderism does not lead to a healthier mental state or lifestyle. While other studies may come to different conclusions based on worldview influences, the fact remains that every person at birth has either “XY” or “XX” genetic markers that identify sex.
When I looked in the mirror this morning, I saw the result of my genetics in the image of a six foot-tall, 43-year-old white male. While I may feel like a 25-year-old, I am not. While I may wish that I were 6’6” so I could play basketball better, I am not. If I desire to be a different ethnicity, my feeling cannot change me. I may admire the beauty of femininity, but I will never be a woman. Biologically, I can never bear children, but after experiencing my wife give birth, I’m okay with that. The fact remains that I am a six-foot-tall, 43-year-old white male, and the sooner I embrace the truth, the better.
WORLDVIEWS AT WAR IN OUR SCHOOLS AND COURTS
Believe it or not, declaring particular genetic markers as what delineates one’s sex is a declaration of war. This battle of worldviews has been building for some time. The secular humanistic worldview undergirding the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender movement embraces same-sex attraction and transgender orientation as being true to oneself. The biblical worldview, on the other hand, sees those actions as embracing our sinful nature in rebellion against our Creator, refusing the true peace and fulfillment found only in salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. The secular humanistic worldview focuses on humanity, defends sexual liberty, and denies a creator. The biblical worldview focuses on God creating men and women in His image and for His glory. These two worldviews will never agree.
As Chai Feldblum states, “There can be a conflict between religious liberty and sexual liberty, but in almost all cases the sexual liberty should win.” In 2010, Feldblum, who was on a mission to advance the LGBT agenda, was confirmed as commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She is currently in her second term, set to expire in 2018. On April 20, 2012, and again on Feb. 3, 2015, the EEOC issued memorandums instructing that transgender discrimination was accepted under Title VII and protected under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. While not law, these guidance documents are given significant consideration by federal courts in deciding court cases.
The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights also issued a guidance document stating that transgender protections were included under Title IX. If they successfully add same-sex and transgender protections to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, then they avoid legislative battles. Should these guidance documents become accepted, state or federal funding of any religious high school, college, or university contending for the Biblical position on marriage and gender will be in question.
Additionally, in the case of Gavin Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board in Virginia, Grimm sued for students’ right to use their bathroom of choice. Judge Robert G. Doumar ruled in favor of the school board, but the United States Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals sent the ruling back down for further consideration. For the first time, a federal appellate court ruled that Title IX protected the right of students to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity. Moreover, the Office of Civil Rights has also ruled that forcing a student to use a separate locker room is discrimination.
These reports to include same-sex and transgender orientation under Title IX compelled some religious organizations to apply for a Title IX exemption. The Human Rights Campaign responded by requesting the Department of Education to regularly report such exemptions. The HRC hopes that highlighting exemptions will increase pressure on religious schools to accept the LGBT position.
Currently working its way through the California legislature is Senate Bill 1146. This bill would eliminate the religious exemption and faith protections for Christian colleges and universities in California, affecting as many as 42 schools, including Biola University and the Master’s College. You can learn more about this bill and its status at opposesb1146.com.
In time, the legal precedent in this worldview collision will likely be decided by the Supreme Court. While our trust lies not in political parties or judicial systems, Christians, as good citizens, should make their voice heard on these issues in an effort to promote human flourishing by the spread of the gospel before it is too late. Rather than allow free marketplace of ideas, the LGBT worldview seeks to silence critics and eliminate voices of opposition.
TRANSGENDER STORIES GRIPPING OUR NATION
At the popular level, most people do not follow Title VII, Title IX, or California SB 1146. Instead, the transgender movement’s compelling personal stories have begun to win popular opinion. While each experience is a little different, the stories bear similarities. Someone was tragically bullied or abused. Someone felt different. Someone was told he or she couldn’t do something he or she loved because it was too feminine or masculine. Someone felt isolated and alone in the struggle. Stories of individuals experiencing isolation, suffering, and ridicule produce emotions of compassion and a desire to help, as they should. The problem, however, comes in the nature of the help offered, with solutions often being worldviews apart.
Even before the Supreme Court decision in favor of same-sex marriage, Time magazine released an issue titled “The Transgender Tipping Point” in May 2014, telling the story of Laverne Cox. Then in early 2015, Bruce Jenner, winner of the gold medal in the decathlon in the 1976 Olympics, revealed himself to the world as Caitlyn Jenner. Through television and print, Jenner divulged the struggle of female feelings trapped inside a male body. Vanity Fair reports that 16.9 million people watched Jenner communicate this experience in Diane Sawyer’s ABC interview.
HOW DO WE RESPOND?
Considering the decisions of governmental agencies, federal courts, and personal stories throughout the media, one must ask, How do we respond? In short, we stand for the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. This means, among other things, following the Great Commandment to love God and others. We love God through compassionate conviction to stand for His Word. We love others through moving beyond generic stereotypes to help deal with real worldview issues and introducing them to the gospel.
For example, my daughter likes to occasionally go hunting with me. She likes riding in the front of my hail-damaged Chevy Avalanche truck. She helps me process deer meat. She puts her own worm on a hook when fishing. In days gone by, she might have been called a tomboy for such actions. But in reality, my daughter has a great sense of style, loves the dollhouse we built together, and displays an overall healthy balance. We Christian parents try to shepherd our children to embrace who God made them to be and use the gifts He has given them for His glory. Perhaps we should improve at supporting the boy whom God has gifted for ballet or given an eye for decorating to use his gifts for God’s glory. Rather than submitting to society’s stereotypes, perhaps we should raise our children and treat those we meet in accordance with the reality that they are made in God’s own image.
As Genesis 1:27 states, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” From this, we can discern a few key points.
First, the Bible mentions three times that God “created.” In a debate, this would be the memorable line. In popular culture, God dropped the mic and walked off the stage. When the Bible repeats something this frequently, it’s important. God created. We did not evolve. As such, the creation versus evolution debate determines the trajectory of a worldview.
Second, the Bible declares twice that God created “in His own image”—as if God were saying, “Star this one because it will be on the test.” Our worth and our value come not in our looks, talents, possessions, feelings, or experience, but in the truth that God created us in His image. While the Fall through Adam’s sin affected the image of God, Genesis 6:9indicates post-Flood that the image still remains. This provides the basis for unity across racial, social, economic, and all other dividing lines. God cares for the soul of the transgendered just as much as He cares for you and me. Our response must not include cruel jokes, demeaning tones, or intentional avoidance.
Third, the Bible states that God created in His image “male and female.” Just a few verses later the Bible declares that “God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good” (Gen 1:31). Certainly the Fall has created challenges. We must fight against the male passivism that allowed Eve to eat of the tree while he apparently stood nearby, and we must fight against the domineering male chauvinism that seeks to rule rather than love as Christ loved the church. We must fight against the desire to usurp proper authority or to bow down to cultural mores like worthless doormats. God created male and female equal in essence, with difference in roles. Consequently, we must fight against sex trafficking, pornography, and other ideologies that see human beings as mere sexual possessions, as well as ideologies that seek to blend the genders into an androgynous world. Altogether, we must clearly articulate a worldview that values the dignity of each human life as created by God, in His image, male and female.
If time and space allowed, we could consider Deuteronomy 22:5, which says, “A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the Lord your God.” at would beckon a discussion of the place of the law in modern Christianity. We should also be prepared to discuss how Galatians 3:28 relates to salvation and does not do away with gender. Finally, we could consult 1 Corinthians 6:9 and how malakos relates to those “of high station who wear soft clothing,” or the effeminate.
For this brief treatment, our response to the transgender discussion focuses on articulating a biblical worldview. The biblical worldview declares that God created humanity in His image, male and female. Adam and Eve rebelled against God so that all inherited a sinful nature. To embrace our inner feelings or to “follow our hearts” often means to embrace the sinful temptations resulting from the Fall. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus came to this earth, was born of a virgin, lived a perfect life, died a death to pay our penalty in our place, and rose from the grave so we might repent and believe in Him in order to be reconciled to our Creator. Through this reconciliation we find the peace and hope of the gospel along with the ability to resist temptation through the power of the Holy Spirit.
We have hope and do not despair because the gospel still changes lives. No court or government can put Jesus back into the grave. As pilgrims passing through this world, we work for the good of others knowing that our ultimate citizenship is in Heaven with King Jesus.
Remember the story of my son not feeling like taking a bath? It took only a few minutes before those feelings of sadness transformed into the joy of bubbles, foam letters, and other bathtub toys. I listened from around the corner to an imagination delighting in the thrills of splashes inside what a few minutes earlier was a torturous tub of cleanliness. Feelings fade and emotions wither, but the Word of God will stand forever.
Similarly, I have found that sinful desires that at one time captivated my heart have given way to the contentment found in my relationship with Christ. As I grow in the Lord, I occasionally respond to my Heavenly Father’s promptings, with spiritual shoulders slumped, “But I don’t feel like it.” On the good days, I obey anyway to find that He knows best; and by denying myself to follow God, I find unimaginable delights filling my heart with true joy.
As we minister to those struggling with experience and feelings, let us remember how often we gave into sinful desires of different kinds. At the end of the day, let us remember that the right response to the person struggling with transgender issues is the same response to the person enslaved by pornography or engaged in an affair: It’s “the old, old story of unseen things above, of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love.”
Thomas White | President